Nevertheless, at the beginning of the ensuing1
year —the consulship of Quintus Servilius Ahala and Lucius Genucius —Manlius was put upon his trial by Marcus Pomponius, a tribune of the plebs.
The people hated him for the severity of his levy, in which they had endured not only fines but bodily distress, some having suffered stripes for failure to respond to their names and others having been dragged off to prison;
but more than all else they hated the man's cruel disposition and his surname, Imperiosus, which offended a free state and had been assumed in ostentation of the truculence which [p. 369]
he used as freely with his nearest friends and his2
own family as with strangers.
Amongst other charges the tribune cited the man's behaviour to his son: the youth, he said, had been found guilty of no misconduct, yet Manlius had excluded him from the City, from his home and household gods, from the Forum, the light of day, and the fellowship of his young friends,
consigning him to slavish drudgery in a kind of gaol or work-house, where a youth of distinguished birth and the son of a dictator might learn by his daily wretchedness how truly “imperious” was the father that had begot him.
Yes, but what was the young man's fault? Why, he had been a little slow of speech —unready with his tongue! But ought not his father to have healed and mended this infirmity of nature —if he had a particle of humanity about him —instead of chastising it and by persecution making it conspicuous? Why even the dumb brutes, if one of their young is unfortunate, do none the less cherish it and foster it.
But Lucius Manlius was aggravating his son's evil plight by evil treatment, and was doubling the burden on his heavy wits; and any spark of native talent that might be there he was quenching in the rustic life and clownish bringing up amongst the dumb brutes where he kept him.